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Science is Golden

Science is Golden: A Problem-Solving Approach to Doing Science with Children

Ann Finkelstein
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 150
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  • Book Info
    Science is Golden
    Book Description:

    The first book of its kind,Science is Goldendiscusses how to implement an inquiry-based, problem-solving approach to science education (grades K-5). Finkelstein shows parents and teachers how to help students investigate their own scientific questions. Rather than a set of guidelines for science fair projects, this book presents a method for helping students expand their creativity and develop logical thinking while learning science.Starting with an introduction to the "brains-on method,"Science is Goldenexplains brainstorming, experimental controls, collecting data, and how to streamline children's questions about science so that the questions define an experiment. Students will learn how to: ask good questions; clarify terminology; research, plan, and design experiments and controls; test assumptions; collect and analyze data; present results to others; and collaborate with adults.Science is Goldenis consistent with the National Science Education Standards proposed by the National Academy of Sciences, and the Michigan Essential Goals and Objectives for Science Education (K-12) from the Michigan State Board of Education.

    eISBN: 978-0-87013-911-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-1)

    The inspiration for writing this book was my children’s curiosity. As I helped them explore their scientific interests, I was struck by how much children are like scientists. They seem to have an insatiable curiosity, they love to investigate unfamiliar concepts and objects, and they analyze what they observe. The motivation for writing this book was the opportunity to help a neighbor, Lizzy, with her fourth grade science project. I was impressed by her knowledge base and organizational abilities, and I wanted to direct Lizzy to a book that would help her plan, perform, and analyze her own experiment. I...

  6. 1 The Brains-On Approach to Science
    (pp. 2-13)

    Science is often perceived as a boring subject, although I cannot understand why. Science is the study of life and death, the oceans and the earth, the flora and the fauna. Science investigates the smallest particles of matter and the breadth of the universe. Science explains why Michael Jordan can jump so high, and just how difficult it is to hit a knuckle ball. Scientific research has developed technologies to allow astronauts to survive in outer space. Science holds the answers to why our children may look like us, or why they may not. The study of science has yielded...

  7. 2 Questions
    (pp. 15-23)

    Children ask many challenging questions as they attempt to understand their large and confusing world. When my sons were toddlers, they seemed to say “no” to everything. Then, seemingly overnight, they switched to asking “why?” “Why do horses have big heads?” “Why does the spider jump?” “Why are they called May apples?” The questions continue. “Are there bald eagles in California?” “What are atoms made of?” “How do helicopters fly without wings?” “Do jellyfish have eyes?” “Have you ever wondered why the planets formed?” My husband and I often had to admit that we did not know the answers. Some...

  8. 3 Brainstorming and Experimental Planning: The Yin and Yang of Science
    (pp. 25-37)

    Experimental planning requires care and attention to detail. brainstorming is unbridled creativity. Both thought processes are required for a successful experiment, and they complement each other. In this chapter, I describe how to use the technique of brainstorming to plan experiments.

    Brainstorming is a creative, fun, and crazy aid for teaching problem-solving skills and critical thinking. Brainstorming works very well with children. Students using this technique share original thoughts, and build on the ideas others have suggested. Brainstorming fosters teamwork and cooperation, while allowing for personal recognition and self-acknowledgement. Brainstorming is an integral part of the brains-on approach to science,...

  9. 4 Control Your Experiment
    (pp. 39-55)

    Experiments are designed to answer a specific question, so it is important to determine whether the answer to the question is correct. Experimental controls confirm scientific results, and convert an experiment into a self-contained argument for a conclusion. Much of the logic and power of the scientific method are embodied in the use of experimental controls.

    What are experimental controls and why are they necessary? Controls are additional samples or trials included in the experiment to verify the results. They are the checks and balances that ensure that the data are meaningful. Experimental controls test the scientist’s assumptions, and provide...

  10. 5 Let’s Experiment!
    (pp. 57-65)

    Care taken in defining a scientific question and planning controls should result in an experiment that is easy to do and data that are simple to analyze. Doing the experiment involves keeping a laboratory notebook, collecting the data, and coping with experimental error.

    The conventional wisdom about keeping a student laboratory notebook seems to revolve around two main tenets. (1) Each new experiment should begin with the statement “The purpose of this experiment is to demonstrate . . .” (2) Neatness is paramount. I suggest a different tactic. Writing the purpose of the experiment implies that the outcome is known...

  11. 6 What Does It Mean?: Data Analysis & Presentation
    (pp. 67-87)

    Scientific information is often compiled in graphs and tables because these formats help experimenters organize and understand their data. Graphing is a powerful analytical tool because it allows the visualization of numerical data. Creating and examining graphs, therefore, often leads to new insights into the data and the experiment. Preparing tables organizes numeric and non-numeric results in a way that emphasizes the appropriate comparisons, and facilitates drawing the correct conclusions. Graphing and tabulating data are important components of the scientific problem-solving toolkit.

    Scientific tables and graphs also help experimenters present their data. Students gain deeper insight into their science projects...

  12. 7 Examples of Experiments
    (pp. 89-115)

    The experiments discussed in this chapter were derived from questions asked by young children. Each experiment was chosen to illustrate specific concepts of the brains-on method. “Is money the dirtiest stuff around?” demonstrates how to refine and clarify a question. “How does the remote control on the TV work?” exemplifies the need for researching the experimental subject. “Why is apple cider brown?” illustrates the importance of experimental controls. “How do you make a parachute for a Beanie Baby?” emphasizes data analysis.

    Let’s consider the question “Is money the dirtiest object around?” What kind of money are we talking about?


  13. 8 Adapting the Brains-On Method for Younger Children
    (pp. 117-125)

    Can the brains-on technique be used by children in preschool, kindergarten, and the lower elementary grades? In my opinion (and in my experience), the answer is yes. Younger children just require more help and patience from adults. The brains-on method is designed to foster cooperation between adults and children. As parents and teachers help children investigate their scientific interests, both the children and the adults will acquire new information. This democratic partnership between children and adults helps children develop independence, trust, learning skills, and teaching skills.

    Younger children often pose wonderful questions. The four experiments discussed in Chapter 7 were...

  14. APPENDIX 1: Children’s Questions
    (pp. 127-141)
  15. APPENDIX 2: Sample Laboratory Notebook
    (pp. 143-150)